Thursday, 1 October 2015

Europe Trip: Kalymnos

:DISCLAIMER: I couldn't add photos to the blog, some issue with my phone. But you're not a toddler anymore, you're a grown ass (wo)man! Go back to kindergarten and paint with your fingers if you want a picture book!

Hey everyone,

I know it's been a little while. Sue me.

Ten second update: We haven't gotten lost, robbed, or killed yet. We eat pretty well, climb slightly better, and sleep probably a little more than is normal. Baklava tastes really good, as does beer, but Ouzo is taking longer to get used to. :)

Greetings from Greece! Since my last post after Youth Bouldering Nationals what feels like an eternity ago, I've remained pretty inactive when it comes to keeping my blog updated semi-regularly. I've drafted a couple posts, but none of them really got what I was trying to say across in the way I wanted, so they still sit unreleased. While a lot has happened since my last post (two more national championships, my first World Cup, Youth Worlds, finishing high school, getting sponsored, getting accepted into university, and what feels like a thousand local comps) all I could think about was that everyone had heard what I was going to say a thousand times, and I didn't want to post something boring, unoriginal and uninspired.

So naturally, I figured that there was no better time to try and put together something a little more personal and unique than now, sitting on a sunny patio with the idyllic island of Telendos sprawled in front of me, the Grande Grotta looming behind me, with a belly stuffed full with grilled cheese and nectarines, the glorious midday sun beating down around me?

Probably the best thing about island life is not the fact that not a soul knows just how long it took me to write the previous paragraph, but the fact that even if someone did know, they wouldn't care. Time means so much less here; some shops close from 12-5 most days, busses may only run every several hours, dinner may start late but the drinking definitely doesn't.

But while the change in mentality of the people around here is the goldilocks combination of refreshing, relaxing, and rejuvenating, it also feels foreign to a certain degree. Despite the fact that I've been in Europe for a healthy five weeks and in kalymnos for nearly three, things haven't started to feel quite "normal" yet. Which is actually something I'm actually greatful for. For so many months of the last couple years, every day of every week was undercut by this dull sense of monotony and familiarity that, at the time was normal, but in hindsight was fairly depressing.

To set the record straight: Edmonton and high school wasn't that bad. It was by no means great, but it was manageable. In comparison to the feeling of freedom brought by this glorious, unbelievable island, however, it was definitely sub-par at best.

The last two weeks have been spent without our parents around, which has honestly been pretty different. Sure, we may be eating basically the exact same things day to day for every meal, the answer to the question of "what's for dinner" no longer being answered by what I feel like but instead by what's most fiscally sustainable, but I think it all adds to the adventure, the experience of it all. Every evening we spend huddled around the guidebook, trying to figure out where to climb the next day, what route to try, when our next rest day needs to be, and I've definitely got to say that it's extremely refreshing to be traveling with two others who get the same glint in their eye when discussing the crag that they've just heard about from another climber, or find a five star mega-classic line in the book that they can't wait to go check out.

As far as the actual climbing goes, it is undoubtedly and indisputably world-class. It's certainly taken a while for me to figure out how to appropriately "do the humpty-hump" up the fattest tufa this side of Morocco, or why anyone in their right mind would subject themselves to 40m of wrestling gargantuan blobs of rock out of a 60-80 degree overhang, but as I climb more and more here I'm starting to figure it all out.

Physically, I'm feeling fit and strong, and can't wait to find a route that excites and inspires me to dedicate myself to spending the hours and days on it to eventually (and hopefully) send it. Until I find something like that, I've really just been checking out new areas, meeting new people, learning to love (and hate) the amount that luck plays in to flashing and onsiting harder routes, especially when you're not quite used to the style of the rock.

I really don't have much more to say, so in the unlikely event that anyone is still reading this (seriously, how have you not left yet) I will say goodbye to you for now! We leave in 9 days for Spain, so hopefully I'll update again after a week or so in Rodellar, but no promises. Until next time :)
-Andrew Funk

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